The High Court has continued an injunction preventing a financial services company from taking any steps to towards the termination of its managing director’s employment.
In a judgment Ms Justice Nuala Butler held that GillenMarkets managing director Rory Mason is entitled to have an injunction, first granted against his employer and the firm’s chairman last April, remain in place pending the outcome of his action.
The order is against GillenMarkets and its chairman Mr Dermot Browne. The judge also directed that Mr Mason is entitled to return to work and that the company facilitate his return.
Mr Mason, who has worked with the wealth management and investment advice firm for several years, claimed he was dismissed by the company following a dispute over a €14,000 bonus payment.
He says the bonus was fully disclosed to approved by the company’s board, which his employer denies.
In his action Mr Mason, who is also the beneficial owner of 15% of the firm’s shares of Dublin-based firm claims his employer has wrongly accused him of gross misconduct.
He strongly denies any wrongdoing, and claims that the “accusation of theft” re “utterly without foundation” and claims they are a “contrived attempt” to remove him from his position “by whatever means necessary”.
The defendants opposed the application to continue orders restraining the investigation, to be conducted by an independent person, into the allegation against Mr Mason over the bonus payment. Any intervention by the court at this stage would be premature, their lawyers submitted.
The defendants also denied that Mr Mason had been dismissed or suspended from his role during a meeting when the issue of the payment was discussed with Mr Browne.
Represented by Oisin Quinn SC, Ray Ryan Bl instructed by solicitor Simon McAleese Mr Mason argued the company’s proposal regarding the investigation was not suitable on the basis that the process was irredeemably flawed and merely window dressing.
It was claimed that the company had already made up its mind to dismiss Mr Mason. The company denied that claim.
No definitive findings
In her judgment Ms Justice Butler said she was prepared to grant injunctions preventing the company from taking steps pending the outcome of the trial.
While the judge said she was not making any definitive findings, she was satisfied that Mr Mason had raised strong grounds that were likely to succeed at the full hearing of the action.
These, the judge said were Mr Mason’s claims that he had been denied fair procedures by the company, and that the proposed investigation process had gone wrong.
The balance of justice also favoured the granting of the injunctions, and the court accepted that damages would not be an adequate remedy given that Mr Mason claims that hw would suffer reputational damage if the orders were not granted.
The judge acknowledged that the defendants do have a bona fide concern about Mr Mason’s continued employment and she was prepared to make directions to facilitate an early hearing of the full trial of the action.